New Year’s Eve 1953 was a fun night for my sister Patty and me.

Our family lived in an apartment over “John’s Foodland,” the general store my parents owned in Buckfield.

Patty had overheard Mom and Dad making plans to go out to celebrate the New Year after all eight of their children were expected to be asleep. Evidently, their plan was to go to a Chinese restaurant in Lewiston. (My sister was way more adept at eavesdropping than I was.) She was 10 years old and I was 8.

The general store was a true country store, complete with an ice cream and soda fountain. A huge draw to the store were the handmade chocolates, which our Mom hand dipped. Delicious!

For obvious reasons, my siblings and I had limited access to all the goodies available in the store. When we were allowed treats, it was always very supervised. One of Dad’s favorite expressions was, “We don’t want you to eat up all the profits.”

Patty went to bed, purposely staying awake until she heard them leaving. I was sound asleep when she came to wake me up. We went to the window to watch from above. It was snowing, so Dad was busy cleaning off the car while Mom sat inside. We stayed hidden behind the curtain until we could no longer hear the car. When we were brave enough to look, we saw the taillights and exhaust slowly disappear down Main Street.


When she told me what she overheard, she added, “They are going to have a New Year’s Eve party so we should have our own party.” Our older brother Bobby was asleep, and we decided to leave him out of the festivities. He was usually bossing us around, so this opportunity was too good to share with him.

It was very exciting.

The apartment had easy access to the store via a staircase that went directly through the candy-making room. We must have made quite the picture tiptoeing down those stairs in our pajamas. As we very gently opened the door, our eyes adjusted quickly to the partially lit interior.

Once inside the store, the choices were overwhelming. What treat do we eat or drink first? The soda cooler was located right by the front door, so that was the first stop. I had always wanted to try Moxie, but Dad told me he knew I wouldn’t like it.

Of course, the brown liquid was calling to my 8-year-old brain. Patty opted for a root beer. We then each grabbed a bag of potato chips. We climbed up on two of the stools at the soda fountain. A glass straw dispenser on the counter provided what we needed to begin to enjoy our drinks.

Dad was right, Moxie is disgusting. Evidently it is an acquired taste. I tossed out the remainder, then opted for a fountain-made cherry coke.

We made ourselves hot fudge sundaes. We sampled chocolates from the candy display case. Once we realized all forbidden fruit had been enjoyed, we quietly tiptoed back to bed.

There is not a New Year’s Eve in my life that I don’t raise a glass to those two little girls.

— Special to the Press Herald

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